Announcing the 2019 CNF Fellowship Recipients!

Congrats to Brian, Becky, Carmen, Gretchen, Sarah, John, Candace, Sarah, Shelia & Jason!

We received dozens of submissions for the very first offering of the Creative Nonfiction Writers Fellowship, and we selected ten mid-career writers who represent a range of backgrounds and experiences, from professional journalists to staff columnists; filmmakers to architects; playwrights to book editors; and MFA students to university professors. Each one has an impressive span of knowledge and professional accomplishments. Learn more about the fellows here.

On March 9th, the fellowship officially began with a daylong event featuring a keynote speech by Jane Friedman, a writer and business strategist with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. “There is really nothing like this out there right now for experienced writers,” Friedman says. “This is a fantastic chance for these fellows to stretch their wings professionally.”

Over the course of the next ten weeks, fellows will work to hone their craft, expand their professional development skills, and as Lee Gutkind, founder of Creative Nonfiction, adds, “build an intimate literary community of support in Pittsburgh, inspiring these writers to tackle larger, more ambitious stories.” 

Guest lecturers include Calvert Morgan, executive editor at Riverhead Books; Francis Lam, host of The Splendid Table and editor-at-large at Clarkson Potter; Alan Olifson, host of The Moth and WordPlay; Liz Reid, reporter at WESA, Pittsburgh’s local NPR station; and many others. Topics will cover funding, research and technology tools, submissions, self-promotion, small business management, best publishing practices, and craft.

The 2019 Creative Nonfiction Fellows

Brian Broome

Brian Broome is a writer and K. Leroy Irvis Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. He has been published in Creative Nonfiction, The Guardian, and Hippocampus, among others.

Becky Cole

Becky Cole is a freelance editor and writer who honed her narrative skills working for imprints of Penguin Random House in New York for eighteen years before returning to Pittsburgh in 2015.

Carmen Gentile

Carmen Gentile has spent the last two decades traveling the world as a journalist covering conflict and developing countries. In 2010, while embedded with US forces in Afghanistan, he was injured by a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade, blinding him in his right eye and shattering the side of his face. He recounts the incident in his first book, Blindsided by the Taliban.

Gretchen McKay

Gretchen McKay is an award-winning feature writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Much of her current work focuses on food and interesting Pittsburgh personalities. She also writes frequently about running, travel, and all the other fun things you can do and see in Western Pennsylvania.

Sarah Menkedick

Sarah Menkedick is the author of Homing Instincts: Early Motherhood on a Midwestern Farm (Pantheon, 2017), longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. Her second book, on an epidemic of anxiety in American motherhood, is forthcoming from Pantheon. Her work has been featured in Harper’s, Pacific Standard, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, the Kenyon Review, Oxford American, Guernica, Aeon, the Paris Review Daily, and elsewhere.

John W. Miller

John W. Miller is an award-winning writer, journalist, and filmmaker with two decades of experience reporting from six continents and forty-five countries, mostly for the Wall Street Journal. He also plays banjo and works as a baseball coach. He’s from Brussels and has lived in Pittsburgh since 2011.

Candace Jane Opper

Candace Jane Opper writes about teen suicide, uncommon families, and the space between personal and cultural histories. Her essays have appeared in Longreads, Guernica, Brevity, Lit Hub, and Vestoj. Her first book, Certain and Impossible Events, is forthcoming with Kore Press. She writes and lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son.

Sarah Shotland

Sarah Shotland is the author of the novel Junkette and a playwright whose work has been produced in theaters nationally and internationally. She’s cofounder of Words Without Walls, which brings creative writing classes to jails and drug treatment centers in Pittsburgh.

Sheila Squillante

Sheila Squillante is the author of the poetry collection Beautiful Nerve, as well as three chapbooks. Her poems and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Brevity, River Teeth, Copper Nickel, South Dakota Review, Glamour Magazine, and elsewhere. She teaches in the MFA program at Chatham University, where she edits the Fourth River. She also serves as online editor for Barrelhouse.

Jason Vrabel

Jason Vrabel is a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer who focuses on housing justice issues. Trained as an architect and community planner, he founded and has written for PublicSource, Shelterforce, and the Pittsburgh Foundation. He is currently coauthoring a book of oral histories.